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ajmattison

'Moistener'/creamy ingredient that is not mayo?

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Hi! So here's the thing, I have never liked mayo. When I started my whole30, I thought it was just because store-bought mayo sucked, but even the home-made stuff makes me gag... It may just be a psychological thing but I just can't enjoy any creamy sauces made with mayo which sucks because it would be a nice neutral substitute for coconut milk in creamy recipes or to moisten 'protein salads'. If anyone has any substitution suggestions please let me know! 

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My first thought would be that you could try to make an egg-free mayo and see if that would work for you. There are some recipes out there, including one from Mel Joulwan that uses ground flax seed and a vegan mayo (sub the soy milk with another plant milk) -- that vegan one does note that almond milk will work but will be thinner, so my thought is maybe cashew milk would work better since it has creamier mouth-feel (to me) than almond milk does. I can't vouch personally for how well either of those recipes works, since I've never had cause to try them... they were just stuffed back in my recipe bookmarks as something that might come in handy (I have a friend who is allergic to eggs, so I'd looked for some egg-free alternatives in case I do a potato salad or something).

If you're absolutely positive that you'd rather avoid anything trying to call itself some version of mayonnaise and can't get your brain to just call it "salad spread" or something, though, then I can definitely understand skipping those and looking for something else. I'm not a mayo fan myself, anything store-bought has always made me gag and I've tweaked my favorite mayo recipe that make the result more appealing to me (I don't eat it straight or anything, but I can manage to lick a spoon to taste it, now).

For moistening protein salads, you don't necessarily need a mayo base, you just need something wet. Vinegar-based dressings are fairly common as alternatives to mayo-based ones, in terms of things like chicken salad and the like. I do use mayo in slaw, but I add spices and almond milk to get a more liquid consistency that moves well throughout the salad (instead of thick and creamy, which just gunks up in my mouth and makes it unappetizing to me).

Another option for a creamy dressing is to start with a cashew base, since cashews can be soaked and then blended into a nut cream. Here's a slaw recipe that uses a cashew dressing (remember to skip the honey if you try it -- if you need it a little sweet, try adding some plain applesauce to the mix); I notice the recipe doesn't call for soaking them, but if I made the recipe myself I'd probably soak them in the fridge overnight (then you drain them well before adding them to the blender with the other ingredients).

One last option if you're willing to try a "mayo" that really doesn't look like it should look or taste anything like mayonnaise... I found a very interesting looking egg-free recipe that uses avocado and coconut milk for the cream factor (skip the honey during Whole30, of course). It notes that you can sub in olive oil for the avocado oil (I always use sunflower oil in my mayo because avocado's too expensive and I really hate how olive oil makes it taste, even the extra light tasting ones) and that almond or cashew milk should swap in fine for the coconut milk, which would give you that more neutral flavor since your point was to avoid using coconut milk.

Hope something in there helps!

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Protein salads can be made with mashed avocadoes. Sometimes I just mix my tuna with olive oil and salt and herbs. The cashew-based idea @Jihanna mentioned is a good one -- I've made this spinach dip (obviously, version 1 without the cheese): https://paleomg.com/4th-july-spinach-artichoke-dip/ -- the way it is written it's more like a creamed spinach, I'd run it through a food processor or blend it with an immersion blender to break the spinach up a little more to make it more dip-like. I think it would be great mixed with chicken in a chicken salad, although I haven't tried that, or you could just use it as a dip with your veggies when you want something creamy.  You might also play with thinning it with almond milk or maybe even broth or water if you wanted it more like a dressing for a salad. I haven't tried that either, but I don't see why you couldn't. 

It's not quite creamy, but sometimes when I have something like ground beef and vegetables, I heat it in a skillet and break and egg or two into it and scramble it all together, it's not truly a creamy texture, but it does change the mix a little bit, I don't know if that's something that you'd like or not.

There are also tahini dressings or something like sunshine sauce (http://meljoulwan.com/2009/07/21/sunshine-sauce/) that are going to be a different flavor, but might give you some of the creamy feel you want. If you stir-fry, I know Nom Nom Paleo has a stir-fry sauce (again, not a neutral flavor, but a way to add more of a moist feel to a stir fry). How do you feel about ranch dressing? Is it too mayo-like? There are even compliant recipes for hollandaise and bearnaise sauces that might be good for some things. 

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